mandag 23. april 2012

The 10 000 Poomsae rule

One of the things I often hear when teaching junior grades or children is the question "How many times do I have to perform this Poomsae before I know it?". The standard answer in my Dojang to this question has always been that you need 10 000 repetitions of one Poomsae before you can truly say that you "know" it. In later years I have come to think that the 10 000 repetition rule is false as I think that "knowing" a Poomsae is more than just knowing the sequence of movements and be able to perform it well. But on the other hand 10 000 repititions before you know the performance side of it might still hold true.



Experts who researched a technical skill and how much practise one needed to become an expert estimated that it took about 10 000 hours of practise before you could call yourself an expert in something. After about 10 000 hours of practise the subjects of the test had reached a high level of performance so the 10 000 repitition rule might not be so far off.

10 000 repititions sounds like it will take forever right? I mean doing a Poomsae 10 000 times sounds like you will do it for eternity does it not? The students usually get put off by the answer and loose their motivation a little and I think that while the 10 000 rule is a good rule of thumb (there will always be individual differences) for the performance side of things, I do not think the instructors telling their white belts that they need to do Taegeuk il Jang 10 000 times before moving on to the next Poomsae is doing their students a good service. You might loose those students that will not put in the time needed to become a "master of Poomsae" and for some instructors this is a good thing. "Hey if they can not put in the time and effort needed why should I bother to teach them anyway?" But what if one of those students were destined to become the next demi god of the martial arts or something but you put him off martial arts because you just blarted out the 10 000 repitition rule like you always do? I was once like that, I did not care about those wich did not seem to give 100% dedication. In retrospect I see that this was maybe an old school way of thinking, but the challenge for instructors is to take an "avarage Joe" who does not give 100% dedication and motivate and change him to like Taekwondo so much that he becomes the next "master". This is now my goal, so I try my best to give all my students my best:). Actually I can not help but feel a little ashamed when thinking back on my past attitude, but hopefully I will now make up for it.

So what do I say to the juniors who asks "How many times do I have to perform the Poomsae before I know it?" I tell them that there is more to Poomsae than just the performance part, but the performance part in itself demands about 10 000 repititions before you "know" it. Then I let them know a little secret: "if you do this Poomsae 30 times every day you will reach the goal before a year has passed! In fact Taegeuk Il Jang lasts a little under a minute so 30 reps is less than 30 minutes of training!"

I have had quite a few motivated students after giving them the aditional information. 10 000 repitions sounds like for ever, but less than 30 minutes of training a day for one year sounds like a goal you can accomplish.

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